Ethiopian Air - Horrible


Dec 13th, 2013, 11:53 AM
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Ethiopian Air - Horrible

My wife and I flew Ethiopian Airlines as indicated below:

1 Nov 13, EA 501, Washington DC to Addis Ababa on “Dreamliner.”
29 Nov 13, EA 815, Addis Ababa to Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
10 Dec 13, EA 814, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania to Addis Ababa
10 Dec 13, EA 500, Addis Ababa to Washington, DC on “Dreamliner”

All travel in Economy.

Absolutely the WORST flying experience that my wife and I have had in over 50 years of international flying. Ethiopian Airlines is a third world airline for third world passengers that tries to pass as a modern airline. It is something like a third world dictator all dressed up in a fancy uniform … sound and fury signifying nothing and with no regard for the people that should be served.

The flight to Addis was a hellish, nerve racking, almost fifteen hours, of non-stop shrieking children. The vast majority of the passengers were of Ethiopian origin, many with little children. Parents made little if any effort to control or quiet their children. Despite repeated complaints to flight staff to intervene they were non responsive and did nothing. Repeated requests to be relocated meet with similar indifference and non-responsiveness. The entire flight staff was unsmiling and removed from any semblance of customer support. The Dreamliner was more of a Nightmare. The cabin was hot … we were told that the Ethiopians liked it that way. The power ports for computers did not work despite being assured by an email from Ethiopian Airlines that power would be available. In fact, the inflight entertainment system did not work at the start of the flight. Food was barely edible. Once in Bole Airport it took one and one half hours for the bags to be off loaded at the terminal and there were no airline representatives available to provide any information.

The flight to Kilimanjaro followed a similar pattern. Ethiopian Airlines provided misinformation sending us to the wrong departure terminal. We had to go through security twice and had to rush to another terminal to catch our flight. The conditions at Bole Airport were totally chaotic with no support personnel from Ethiopian Airline present to provide information. Once again an aircraft full of screaming unruly children not controlled by parents and without any interference on the part of the we can care less flight crew. Fortunately, a short flight into the more civilized environment of Tanzania.

The flight back to Addis Ababa was another disaster. There were passengers awaiting the flight that was booked for the previous day on Ethiopian Airlines. They arrived at the terminal and waited and waited until they were finally told that the flight had been cancelled. Although Ethiopian Airlines knew of the cancellation before their arrival at the terminal they were not told and were checked in as if there was going to be a flight. No explanation provided. They had to “fight” with Ethiopian Airlines to get hotel vouchers in Addis and the airline refused to pay for or help with the temporary visas they would need since they were required to stay over night in Addis before catching their connecting flights to Europe. All swore never to fly Ethiopian Airlines again. The flight we were booked on arrived about an hour late and during this entire time no Ethiopian Airline employee was available to provide any information … for all we knew another cancelled flight. Additionally, our previously confirmed seats were not available on check in despite having a long-standing confirmed reservation. We arrived late in Addis and had to rush to make our connecting flight to Washington DC. Again, no help and were put on the wrong bus … it took us to the wrong terminal. Similar situation with screaming children that put your nerves on end.

The Dreamliner flight back to Washington DC was again a Nightmare experience.
It was even fuller with screaming, shrieking, uncontrolled children. There were a significant number of lap children (imagine holding a child quietly in your lap for fifteen hours). The crew was even surlier, more incommunicative and more negative than on the initial flight. They refused to do anything about the “children situation”, not even talk to the parents. The children roamed the isles some with their rear ends bare. Impossible to sleep, relax do anything but being subject to shrill, continuous crying and shrieking’s. Although other seats were available all requests to be moved were refused. The Captain (and his flight staff) refused to talk to us. When asked for real milk to have with coffee we were refused, although milk was available. When asked for an extra package of cheese, because the food was too spicy to eat, the response was only one piece to each customer – even though they had a draw full of extra cheese.

Getting off the aircraft in Washington DC was like being released from captivity.

The blatant non-responsiveness of Ethiopian Airline personnel was all too typical of service contacts that we had during our month’s stay in country. It was all about them and not the customer … they have no concept of customer service. Ethiopian Airline, based on our experience, is geared up to support diaspora Ethiopians and applies Ethiopian values to international flights. As we departed the aircraft a staff member commented “unruly passengers.” To them, if you complain and do not meekly accept substandard service you are “unruly.”

Unfortunately, as long as this attitude prevails the country is doomed to remain one of the poorest in the world. Avoid Ethiopian Airlines, there are options … take them.
nbeinhac is offline  
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Dec 13th, 2013, 01:09 PM
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Doesn't surprise me, heard such stories.
Suggest you post this also on the Air Travel forum. Wonder if before you booked you had asked Air Travel forum to comment on Ethiopian, what would have been reply?

FWIW, I did a search (last two years) in Air Travel forum and seems that comments on Ethiopian are mixed.

regards tom
cary999 is offline  
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Dec 13th, 2013, 02:42 PM
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This is the first time I've read such a negative review of Ethiopian Air. Though I've never flown with them (not convenient when I have JFK or EWR nearby, many others have/do, so surprising.

Shocking, shocking - crying children... been on many of those, so now careful when choosing time of day I book a flight regardless how many time zones. Flight crews, where some can be uncooperative/ornery, well can you blame them? You should try walking across the Atlantic Ocean and half of Africa before planting yourself on terra-firma. I sure wouldn't be a happy camper, and though this is the line of work they've chosen, you have to learn how to work with these guys/gals. I have never been unable to get a smile or assistance... for sure the last thing any passenger wants to do is pi$$ off the crew.

This doesn't mean there haven't been other travelers with similar experiences, but not reported as this.

My wonder always though is how families with lots of kids can afford to pay for all of them, as few int'l air carriers offer discounts. And personally, regardless the child's age, I'd never travel with a lap baby... you either buy a seat, or stay put, wherever the 'put is.'
sandi is offline  
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Jan 10th, 2014, 12:39 PM
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I totally understand your opinion. There are other customers who can share your opinion, and others maybe disagree with you. To that matter any airlines is not perfect. You name it Delta; Lufthansa, British airlines, KLM and much more have their own up and down. Read trip advisor web site for good or bad comment. Ethiopian airlines are one of the best airlines regarding service and safety. However, as I said before they have their own up and down when it comes to service. They are not perfect but they are trying to improve their service every day. I don’t think your harsh comment is appropriate towards EAL. There are many happy customers too. Your stereotype comment has no place towards Ethiopian airlines. There are many airlines that are flying from USA or Europe and their standard of service is same as those airlines from Africa. By the way do you have children’s? If you have kids I don’t think you give that kind of comment. I am not defending Ethiopian airlines but I fly many times and their service is the same as any airlines in the world. Get over it…and fly next time with private jet if you are supper rich.
AdmasTravel is offline  
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Jan 10th, 2014, 10:14 PM
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Hello AT, I also have flown on many airlines over past 40 years. But admittedly never on Ethiopian. I've never had the experience that nbeinhanc (OP) had but if I did I would also complain like they did here. And I would not simply "get over it" and fly private jet as your snarky reply recommends.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
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Jan 11th, 2014, 08:07 AM
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Dear Tom
I respect your opinion. I don’t have any problem regarding complain when we see bad service. I am not by any means defending Ethiopian Airlines. Like any airlines their service is not perfect. If you get a chance you will be the judge for their service in the future. The food is based on International standard, and great. However comments like “Ethiopian Airlines is a third world airline for third world passengers that tries to pass as a modern airline.” To me this kind of word choice is stereotype and racist. We have the right to complain if service goes wrong in a very civilized way.
Best Regards,
AdmasTravel is offline  
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Jan 11th, 2014, 08:15 AM
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Yeah, like you, whenever I disagree with someone's opinion I call them a racist homophobe.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
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Jan 12th, 2014, 05:54 AM
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I am put off and dismayed by the comment by the original poster. I've flown all over the world, deep through Africa in some of the poorest countries. Though I love a good safari in Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia and SA, I have also traveled deep through Sierra Leone, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Liberia. I've been blessed to take some of the worlds best airlines and not so blessed to take, what the poster would call "first-world" airlines, with horrible service and terrible experiences. I have also taken African carriers that had old equipment, late schedules and crammed extra bodies on board. Was I happy? No. But did I understand the poverty of a particular country, understand that my fellow human beings were trying to get from A to B just like I was, and that it was my choice to want to experience their rich culture and beautiful country -- yes I did.

I know I'm making a judgement here, which I hate to do because the poster is more judgmental than anyone needs to be in a lifetime, but if you are going to Africa for over a month and you choose Ethiopian airlines and fly coach, it would seem you have no other options available to you. And that is perfectly fine, as I would ride a donkey if I had to in order to experience the richness, the beauty and the humanity of this world. However, to demean the fellow passengers who must have similar budgets as you since you are all flying the same airline/class of service and making it seem like they do not have a right to do so while visiting their own country is absurd. What about all the screaming lap children that we have all heard and witnessed in the U.S. on American based airliners? Should these parents be stopped from flying from Disneyland to Boise? The Ethiopians that you are talking about, who must have inspired your trip to visit their country, have as much right to travel as you and spent the same amount of money on their ticket as you did...U.S. currency is green, it does not have a race.

And if I speak for myself, a lot of people on this forum know I traispe around this world with 3 kids. I'm fortunate that I have always been able to buy each of them a seat. But if I couldn't, the choice between staying home and having one of them on my lap would be a no brainer. And I would never, ever want anyone else to not explore this world because their finances dictated flying with a lap child. And I certainly would never deny Ethiopians who call DC home -- the largest population of Ethiopians in the U.S. -- the ability to return to their homeland and instill their very unique, old, and beautiful culture and customs in their American born children. By the way, I used to live in D.C. and I know how utterly hard working, utterly beautiful and utterly kind most Ethiopeans are. I agree with Admas Travel, your comment about "a third world airline for third world people" was racist and in my opinion out of touch with most people who desire to explore this world. Those "third world" people you were talking about on your flight are probably the ones working 2 to 3 jobs, seeking a first-rate education at Georgetown, GW, and/or American Universities.

My advice to you is to seek a "more civilized" vacation destination like....Finland, Sweden, Norway or the like. Or perhaps you can work 2 to 3 jobs, like many of your fellow passengers, and save up for first class. Or better yet, do your research and fly another airline. I have no problem with your complaints about service. In fact, you should post them on Skytrax or similar sites listed above. But to demean a country, a culture, and human beings, including children, is the very definition of "uncivilized."
Lolazahra is offline  
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Jan 12th, 2014, 11:09 AM
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<> Actually they are one of the most profitable airlines in Africa.
Odin is offline  
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Jan 16th, 2014, 08:55 AM
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Not recent but maybe worth reading:
ekscrunchy is offline  
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Jan 16th, 2014, 03:28 PM
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Your comment is appropriate; however there is a lot of choice to fly to Addis Ababa or Africa other than Ethiopian Airlines. To name few Lufthansa, Emirate, Air China, Air India, Singapore Airways, Turkish Airways, South African Airlines, Egypt air, and much more. My choice is always Lufthansa. Check others too if they are not willing to improve their service. Customer is the king as long as you pay for it.
AdmasTravel is offline  
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Jan 16th, 2014, 07:26 PM
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A Ugandan friend and her husband flew with EA last yr around the time of the Nairobi airport fire. Her stories of indifferent, incompetent, disorganized, uncaring service, on both the flights and the layover in Addis, were shocking. Really. At one time, i considered a flight with Ethiopian, Now...never!!
Luckily, other airlines fly to Addis.
Thanks to the OP for taking time to post that warning tale.
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